|Montreal sommelière Jessica Harnois|
The quotient of beautiful women in Montreal seems even higher than in my native Brazil. Especially during these warm months, the beauties are everywhere in Montreal: sipping beer on terrasses, biking, walking their dogs and, of course, waitressing at restaurants. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that some of the most qualified sommelières (female sommeliers), aka wine experts, in town also happen to be attractive women.
Dispensing wine advice at restaurants is a job usually associated with men, so it’s great to see that Montreal bucks the trend. And with honours: Elyse Lambert (pictured above) for example, was voted best sommelière in the Americas in 2009 and travels often to the wine-producing regions of the world. While she’s become a bit of a celebrity in Montreal, her tips are part of the package when you have dinner at the super trendy Le Local, where she works. Elyse appears on a local TV show, tasting and dissecting wines in French – but she’s not the only sommelière who’s good on camera.
The beautiful Aurélia Filion of Le Club Chasse et Pêche restaurant (one of my favourites) – has created quite a buzz with the snappy videos she posts on her blog. She films herself talking about wine, in a room with bottles in the background. The result could have been massively boring, but she actually draws in the viewer with her unaffected enthusiasm and charisma.
Equally blonde and mignonne, sommelière Marie-Josée Beaudoin co-owns Montréal’s hottest new restaurant, Les 400 Coups and also finds time to blog.
Her wine list is filled with surprising finds and her pairings can be refreshingly atypical. One hit currently on the menu is the glass of Jurançon (Château Jolys 2008) that is proposed with the impossibly delicious dessert called “Green” (apple granité, pistachios, olive oil, micro cilantro leaves, ultra-creamy white chocolate yogurt). Another bold choice is the local red wine sold by-the-glass (Chateau Taillefer Lafon 2006), made just north of Montreal in Laval. While not always a crowd-pleaser, it’s quite a curious discovery.
Working much further uptown than the three others, who are all in Old Montreal, Etheliya Hananova is one of the best things about the hip little restaurant Lawrence. She may draw stares from customers for her gorgeous looks, but gets her cred in the business from a solid formation and a shining personality. She’s on-hand almost every night to help regulars and newcomers alike navigate what food critic Lesley Chesterman of The Gazette calls “a great little wine list”.
Lawrence, 5201 St-Laurent, (514) 503-1070
Le Local, 720 William, (514) 397-7737
Les 400 Coups, 400 Notre-Dame East, (514) 985-0400
Le Club Châsse et Pêche, 423 St-Claude, (514) 861-1112